common fire

i’m at the common fire board retreat, building with old friends and new ones around of vision of developing intentional communities that are grounded with and led by urban, grassroots folks. it’s a really inspirational process to go through, as part of a set of communities across the country learning and figuring this out.

my friends, jeff and kavitha, founded a coop house in ny which was one of the greenest buildings on the east coast when it was built. now there are two further communities – one in beacon, near nyc, and the other is common fire west, growing in oakland, both just getting started.

a vision document was developed, and a video, both of which lay out deeply and specifically what the essential criteria of communities needs to be in order to support a truly radical vision for a new world.

we are not the first to think on these things, or the last. but we are doing a ton of research, reading octavia butler, traveling around the world to see how intentional communities look in other places and thinking about what that could really look like in the u.s. and how communities can get started…

the essential characteristics that have been identified thus far are:

1. true diversity and accessibility [not surface, and not token, but really a variety of race, class, ability, sexuality, spiritual, age and gender voices in leadership]
2. ongoing personal growth and interpersonal dialogue. [many of the folks in common fire use the Be Present model of deep listening and direct, emotional, wholistic communication. but other models are present as well.]
3. aligning actions with values, or achieving means-to-ends consistency. that the community doesn’t espouse one set of values while practicing another…for me this is deeply aligned with ruckus’s “actions speak louder than words” value which has repeatedly shown up in my life and is how i grant credibility to folks i come across.
4. bridging transformation in the community with transformation in the world…for me this directly addresses the way that transformation is often an internal process – for a person or a small community – and that we have to be more accountable to playing a political and relevant role for the world which is full of people we love.

i am thinking a lot about octavia butler’s acorn communities, and the earthseed belief system she puts forth there in the parable series, and how crucial it is for a community to develop a shared culture that honors the divinity and beauty and brilliance and offerings of each member of the community.

this work is deeply tied to food justice, to self-sufficiency, to health at a community level, to birth and life and retreat and teaching and learning. it’s super inspiring and we’re just figuring out the very beginnings of this – but it is so crucial that this vision sparks in our hearts and minds to hold in light of racial profiling in arizona, in light of the world we are in right now.

i’ll keep you posted!